Kicker makes a sensational first impression on the Cardinals
By Jim Koch
Veteran Matt Prater was everything the Arizona Cardinals could have hoped for and more during the team’s 2021 preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
One of the top offseason priorities of the Arizona Cardinals was to find a placekicker who could come through in big moments. Back in March, the club’s front office decided that veteran Matt Prater was the perfect man for the job. If the early indications are correct, it appears that the Cards made the right choice.
Prater converted all four of his field-goal attempts (including the game-winner as time expired) during Arizona’s 19-16 preseason victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Friday night’s matchup, played in front of an enthusiastic State Farm Stadium crowd, was actually a lot of fun to watch. It was made even better by Prater, who showed the team and its fans how important it is to have a reliable kicker on your 53-man roster.
The vastly experienced Prater got things rolling in the first quarter when his 33-yard field goal gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead over the visiting Cowboys. Early in the third quarter, the 15th-year professional booted a 28-yarder that gave the Redbirds a 13-6 advantage at the time.
Veteran proves he has nerves of steel in his first Arizona Cardinals appearance
Those who follow the Cards got a taste of just how clutch Prater can be in the final quarter when the 37-year old blasted a 48-yard try straight through the waiting goalposts. The successful conversion knotted the contest up at 16 apiece with just 1:51 left in regulation. The ultimate test for Prater, however, would come right before the final gun.
There were two seconds remaining in the clash with Dallas when Prater lined up to attempt a 48-yard field goal. Cardinals diehards held their breath as the booted football began sailing way too close to the left upright. Thankfully, the kick made it through, and Prater had given his teammates a three-point win over the hated Cowboys.
That stomach-churning scenario at the end of preseason game No. 1 was exactly why Arizona brought Prater to the desert. The trust has been put back into a position that came up short for “Big Red” far too often in 2020. Kudos to general manager Steve Keim for acquiring Prater and putting a serious issue from last season to rest.